We’re officially less than a week away from Hollywood’s biggest night. The 89th Academy Awards will be presented on Sunday, February 26. Damien Chazelle’s gorgeous musical “La La Land” received a record-tying 14 nominations, and is the favorite to win a majority of them, including Best Picture, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t still predictions to make. I’ve made what will likely be my final list of predictions before the show, breaking down many of the categories with explanations on why who will win what, and possible upsets and controversies (because it’s 2017 and there’s always controversy).
Click the links in some of the categories to read my full reviews of the Oscar-nominated movies. Let me know what your Oscar predictions are in the comments, and enjoy Sunday night!
Best Picture: “La La Land”
“La La Land” has won pretty much every film award leading up to the Oscars. It’s been well-received by critics and audiences alike, and, as mentioned before, received way more nominations than any other movie this year. At this point, any other movie taking home Best Picture would be considered an upset, but there’s one movie that does have a chance, however slight: Barry Jenkin’s touching drama “Moonlight.” “Moonlight” is not only a better film than “La La Land” (and that’s nothing against “La La Land,” because it’s still great), but the story about the life of a young black man is exactly what many audiences were looking for in the wake of last year’s Oscars So White controversy. “La La Land,” meanwhile, is arguably the whitest of all of this year’s nominees, besides “Manchester by the Sea.” I don’t want Academy members to pity vote for “Moonlight” for that reason alone, but we have to admit that the chance is there.
But “Moonlight’s” more likely chance at winning comes from the fact that it swiped the Best Original Screenplay award from “La La Land” at last weekend’s Writer’s Guild of America Awards. The Oscars relegated “Moonlight” to the adapted screenplay category because Jenkins’ screenplay is just ever-so-slightly based on an existing play, so it won’t be competing against “La La Land” in that category this weekend. But the fact that it beat it at the WGA Awards is noteworthy, and proves that a lot of people see the story/script for “Moonlight” as superior to “La La Land.”
Best Director: Damien Chazelle, “La La Land”
Chazelle won the Director’s Guild Award for “La La Land,” so it’s very likely he’ll win the Oscar as well. Again, Jenkins’ is really his only competition. It’s very unlikely that Chazelle would win for director but lose Best Picture, but the chance is always there.
Best Actor: Denzel Washington, “Fences”
The Best Actor category is the most up-in-the-air of all the main categories this year. Washington won the SAG Award for Best Actor for “Fences.” But Casey Affeck has won basically everything else for his performance in “Manchester by the Sea.” While Affleck was the early favorite, past sexual harassment allegations appear to have caught up with him, and could very well be a factor in him losing momentum (and rightly so, however great his performance is). It doesn’t happen often that the SAG winner loses the Oscar, so Washington has the advantage as of right now.
Best Actress: Emma Stone, “La La Land”
Natalie Portman got a lot of buzz very early on for “Jackie,” but that movie never picked up enough momentum to get a good showing this award’s season. Isabelle Huppert won the Golden Globe, which is cool but ultimately doesn’t mean a lot for the Oscars. Stone won the SAG and is riding the high from the success of “La La Land,” so she’ll likely win.
Best Supporting Actor: Mahershala Ali, “Moonlight”
There is no competition here. It will be Ali.
Best Supporting Actress: Viola Davis, “Fences”
Best Animated Feature: “Zootopia”
Best Original Screenplay: “La La Land”
Kenneth Lonergan’s script for “Manchester by the Sea” is witty and moving, and far superior to “La La Land’s.” With “Moonlight” sent off to the adapted category, it’s the only film that could possibly overtake “La La Land” in this category, but it isn’t that likely.
Best Adapted Screenplay: “Moonlight”
Best Documentary Feature: “O.J.: Made in America”
Possible spoiler: Ava DuVernay’s “13th.” But “O.J.” has won just about everything up to now.
Best Foreign Language Film: “The Salesman”
The foreign language film category is a bit all over the place this year, with most critics torn between “A Man Called Ove,” “Toni Erdmann,” and “The Salesman.” But it seems like the latter film has the advantage at the moment. The Iranian drama directed by Asghar Farhadi, who previously won in this category for his brilliant film “A Separation,” has been the center of some drama, saying he won’t attend the Oscars this year because of President Trump’s travel ban. The controversy has thrust him and his movie into the spotlight, and could have some small part in him winning.
Best Cinematography: “La La Land”
“Lion” actually won the ASC Award for Best Cinematography, so it’s the most likely to spoil the “La La Land” streak here.
Best Costume Design: “Jackie”
Best Makeup and Hairstyling: “Star Trek Beyond”
Best Film Editing: “La La Land”
Best Original Score: “La La Land”
Best Original Song: “City of Stars,” “La La Land”
“City of Stars” has won everything so far, and remains the frontrunner. But with fellow “La La Land” song “Audition” also nominated, one has to wonder if that could split the vote, resulting in a coup for Lin-Manuel Miranda and “Moana.”
Best Production Design: “La La Land”
Best Sound Editing: “Hacksaw Ridge”
War films typically perform the best in this category, so we’ll put “Hacksaw Ridge” as the favorite, although the “La La Land” hype could bleed into this category as well.
Best Sound Mixing: “La La Land”
Best Visual Effects: “The Jungle Book”
Best Short Film, Live Action: “Ennemis Interieurs”
Best Short Film, Animated: “Piper”
Pixar’s latest short seems to be the favorite this year, but the innovative animated short “Pearl,” which uses 360 degree virtual reality technology to fully immerse the viewer in its world, could win for being something truly new and ground-breaking. And let’s not leave out “Borrowed Time,” which was made by some Pixar employees and created quite a stir on the internet earlier last year.
Best Documentary, Short Subject: “Joe’s Violin”